Was Richard Dreyfuss negatively portrayed as a “jerk” in the Jaws play?

richard dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss Finds Himself “Hurt” by His Depiction as a “Jerk” in the Jaws Play

Oh boy, it seems like Matt Hooper’s famous line from Jaws has come back to bite Richard Dreyfuss in the behind. The actor is not too pleased with his portrayal in the play The Shark Is Broken, which delves into the making of the iconic film.

Co-written by Ian Shaw, the son of the late Robert Shaw, who portrayed Quint in Jaws, The Shark Is Broken has become the target of Dreyfuss’ ire. Not only is he unhappy with his own depiction, but he also takes issue with the alleged feuding between himself and Shaw.

Now, you might be wondering why the sudden uproar if the play premiered back in 2019 and Dreyfuss even attended a performance. Well, it turns out that Ian Shaw didn’t bother to consult Dreyfuss about the making of Jaws. Instead, he relied solely on his father’s diary for reference.

In an article for Vanity Fair, Dreyfuss expressed his dismay, saying, “It was pretty awful…Ian—who has more than any right to write whatever he wants—never called me and said, ‘Give me some background.’ Or, ‘Give me your take on this and this.’ And they just decided to make my character a big jerk.” He added, “The problem is that they made my character the fool…They didn’t do that to Roy, and they didn’t do that to Robert. And that hurt because it wasn’t true.”

Now, it should be noted that Richard Dreyfuss has gained a reputation for being a bit testy as he gets older. It’s no secret that he has had some feuds on set (looking at you, What About Bob?) and there was some ribbing between him and Shaw during the filming of Jaws. But come on, if you throw someone’s bourbon overboard, you can’t expect them to be all sunshine and rainbows.

Dreyfuss insists that any supposed feud is just fodder for the rumor mill, and now the play is exacerbating the situation. However, it is worth considering his point. With both Shaw and Roy Scheider (who played Brody) sadly no longer with us, shouldn’t they have at least consulted the last surviving member of the Orca crew?

It’s no surprise that Jaws remains Richard Dreyfuss’ highest-grossing film, followed closely by another Spielberg masterpiece, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Their third collaboration, Always, on the other hand, is often considered one of Spielberg’s weakest works.

So, should Richard Dreyfuss have been contacted about the Jaws play? Well, that’s up for debate. But one thing is for sure: it seems that old wounds have been reopened, and Dreyfuss is feeling the sting all these years later.